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(The following copyrighted information is an excerpt from Matthew Bauer’s first book “The Healing Power of Acupressure and Acupuncture”.)


The World Health Organization (WHO) has done a lot of work in the area of traditional medical approaches of various cultures. They recognized that acupuncture is spreading rapidly around the world and so gave special consideration to advising countries how they may come to understand the training necessary to become a qualified acupuncturist and the types of conditions that are treatable. While stating it is up to each national health authority to decide what conditions they wish to use acupuncture to treat, the WHO provided a rough guideline by compiling a comprehensive list of controlled clinical trails done on acupuncture and then dividing these findings into four categories. These categories span those studies which clearly prove acupuncture’s effectiveness for specific conditions to those conditions for which fewer studies have been done but evidence suggests acupuncture may be worthwhile trying. A review of these four categories shows that, as a general rule, those conditions which acupuncture has more clearly shown itself effective in treating are largely the type that the body clearly has the ability to heal. Conversely, the conditions for which acupuncture’s effectiveness is less certain tend to be of the type which the body’s self-healing ability alone may not be effective. The first list is thus dominated by conditions such as hay fever, headache, low back pain, morning sickness, and tennis elbow – conditions the body clearly has the ability to heal. In the second list we start to find more conditions for which the body’s ability to heal itself is less certain such as bronchial asthma, infertility, and chronic ulcerative colitis. The last two lists are made up of conditions like color blindness, deafness, chronic pulmonary heart disease, and then coma, convulsions, and viral encephalitis. These last conditions are good examples of those which the body’s self-healing ability could possibly address, but the odds of this happening are considerably less than is the case with the disorders on the first two lists. One category not listed by the WHO is those conditions for which acupuncture is clearly not effective. Such a list would be dominated by conditions that require dramatic intervention such as severe trauma, aggressive infections, badly degenerated joints, congenital disorders, or a range of near fatal conditions. When I say acupuncture would not be effective in treating these conditions however, I mean as a primary treatment meant to cure or control such problems. Acupuncture or other reaction therapies can be quite helpful as a supplemental therapy in such conditions to ease pain, speed recovery, or otherwise improve general well-being. Although these lists only reflect conditions for which controlled trails on acupuncture has been done and cannot cover every possible condition, a review of these lists gives a good general sense of the types of conditions most treatable with acupuncture. The WHO’s lists, as cited on their web site under “Acupuncture: review and analysis of reports on controlled clinical trials:”


Diseases and disorders that can be treated with acupuncture

The diseases or disorders for which acupuncture therapy has been tested in controlled clinical trials reported in the recent literature can be classified into four categories as shown below.


  1. Diseases, symptoms or conditions for which acupuncture has been proved—through controlled trials—to be an effective treatment:


Adverse reactions to radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy

Allergic rhinitis (including hay fever)

Biliary colic

Depression (including depressive neurosis and depression following stroke

Dysentery, acute bacillary

Dysmenorrhoea, primary

Epigastralgia, acute (in peptic ulcer, acute and chronic gastritis, and gastrospasm)

Facial pain (including craniomandibular disorders)


Hypertension, essential

Hypotension, primary

Induction of labour

Knee pain



Low back pain

Malposition of fetus, correction of

Morning sickness

Nausea and vomiting

Neck pain

Pain in dentistry (including dental pain and temporomandibular dysfunction)

Periarthritis of shoulder

Postoperative pain

Renal colic

Rheumatoid arthritis




Tennis elbow


  1. Diseases, symptoms or conditions for which the therapeutic effect of acupuncture has been shown but for which further proof is needed:


Abdominal pain (in acute gastroenteritis or due to gastrointestinal spasm)

Acne vulgaris

Alcohol dependence and detoxification

Bell’s palsy

Bronchial asthma

Cancer pain

Cardiac neurosis

Cholecystitis, chronic, with acute exacerbation


Competition stress syndrome

Craniocerebral injury, closed

Diabetes mellitus, non-insulin-dependent


Epidemic haemorrhagic fever

Epistaxis, simple (without generalized or local disease)

Eye pain due to subconjunctival injection

Female infertility

Facial spasm

Female urethral syndrome

Fibromyalgia and fasciitis

Gastrokinetic disturbance


Gouty arthritis

Hepatitis B virus carrier status

Herpes zoster (human (alpha) herpesvirus 3)




Labour pain

Lactation, deficiency

Male sexual dysfunction, non-organic

Ménière disease

Neuralgia, post-herpetic



Opium, cocaine and heroin dependence


Pain due to endoscopic examination

Pain in thromboangiitis obliterans

Polycystic ovary syndrome (Stein–Leventhal syndrome)

Postextubation in children

Postoperative convalescence

Premenstrual syndrome


Prostatitis, chronic


Radicular and pseudoradicular pain syndrome

Raynaud syndrome, primary

Recurrent lower urinary-tract infection

Reflex sympathetic dystrophy

Retention of urine, traumatic


Sialism, drug-induced

Sjögren syndrome

Sore throat (including tonsillitis)

Spine pain, acute

Stiff neck

Temporomandibular joint dysfunction

Tietze syndrome

Tobacco dependence

Tourette syndrome

Ulcerative colitis, chronic


Vascular dementia

Whooping cough (pertussis)


  1. Diseases, symptoms or conditions for which there are only individual controlled trials reporting some therapeutic effects, but for which acupuncture is worth trying because treatment by conventional and other therapies is difficult:



Choroidopathy, central serous

Colour blindness



Irritable colon syndrome

Neuropathic bladder in spinal cord injury

Pulmonary heart disease, chronic

Small airway obstruction


  1. Diseases, symptoms or conditions for which acupuncture may be tried provided the practitioner has special modern medical knowledge and adequate monitoring equipment:


Encephalitis, viral, in children, late stage

Paralysis, Breathlessness in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease


Convulsions in infants

Coronary heart disease (angina pectoris)

Diarrhoea in infants and young children


progressive bulbar and pseudobulbar